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Architectural consultant John Spencely
"I don't see any evidence of a project costing 300m"
 real 28k

Political editor Brian Taylor
"It may yet become a symbol of new democracy, right now it is an icon for political anger"
 real 56k

Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 19:21 GMT 20:21 UK
MSPs 'deceived' over Holyrood costs
The Holyrood site
Building work continues at Holyrood
There have been angry exchanges in the Scottish Parliament over the cost of the new Holyrood building.

Tory leader David McLetchie said MSPs had been deceived and Donald Gorrie of the Liberal Democrats said the parliament had been "lied to".

The cost has risen to 195m - but may now rise still further.

The debate, called by the Conservatives, follows claims by architectural writer David Black that the new parliament building is likely to be six times more than the original estimate of 50m

David McLetchie
Tory leader David McLetchie who called the debate
Mr Black, who has published a book on the project, claims it could turn out to be the biggest overspend in Scottish architectural history.

Mr McLetchie said the new devolved Scotland was throwing money around like confetti.

"This whole farce of Holyrood has gone on long enough. It's time to put a ceiling on the Holyrood project, it's time to cut our coat according to our cloth and it's time for the Executive to say unequivocally 'enough is enough - not a penny more'."

Mr Gorrie said: "We were frankly lied to. Not by individuals but certainly by the establishment. We were seriously misled."

The Scottish National Party's Mike Russell said the project had been borne out of "haste and political panic".

Building work

He said: "This is a farce, it is also a tragedy and it would have been easy to avoid if the Labour Party at the very beginning had listened instead of trying to get its own way."

Mr Russell said although he was angry at the rising costs of the project, the Tory assertion that a cap should now be put on the building work was not the answer.

And he said the Parliament now had to accept that Holyrood will be completed over budget and make the best of a bad job.

Enric Miralles
The design was the brainchild of the late Enric Miralles
Labour MSP John Home Robertson, who convenes the progress group on the building project, accused critics of "girning" over the cost when they were out to undermine either the executive or the entire devolution project.

At the end of the debate, MSPs passed an amended motion generally welcoming the progress on the Holyrood project by 61 votes to 30 with 19 abstentions.

A motion by Scottish Conservative leader David McLetchie asking the Executive to reconfirm the cash limit of 195m on the project was watered down by a further amendment from Labour MSP John Home Robertson.

A second amendment in the name of SNP education spokesman, Michael Russell, was defeated by 31 votes to 76 with three abstentions.

It expressed considerable concern that the 195 million was likely to be exceeded and called on the executive to place a minister on the Progress Group.

'Psychologically important'

The author David Black, who sparked the latest row, told BBC Scotland: "I don't think anyone seriously believed 195m. That was a political figure to keep below the 200m psychologically important threshold.

"It is obviously going to over 300m."

In his book Mr Black says the alternative site at Calton Hill would have been a much better option.

He says the site was rejected on purely ideological grounds by New Labour in London.

The original blueprint has been modified
The book also attacks the changes that have been made to the original design by the late Spanish architect Enric Miralles.

It says little now remains of his vision and predicts that the finished building will turn out to be a catastrophic failure, even more embarrassing than the Dome in London.

Architectural consult John Spencely, whose report to the Scottish Parliament said that the project could be finished for 195m, said the cost of the project had not changed since he produced his report in March 2000.

He said: "I think, if I may be so bold, Mr Black in his anxiety to sell his book is becoming over-excited.

"I have not seen Mr Black's book, and I have not read it, and I look forward to reading it. Whether it bears any relationship to the truth is something we will all have to form a judgment on."

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See also:

05 Dec 00 | Scotland
Adviser under fire over Holyrood
01 Nov 00 | Scotland
Widow defends Holyrood project
27 Oct 00 | Scotland
Holyrood watchdogs face grilling
03 Oct 00 | Scotland
'Changes' forced up Holyrood cost
19 Sep 00 | Scotland
Report unearths Holyrood flaws
03 Jul 00 | Scotland
Scots Parliament architect dies
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